These days, ‘minimalism’ and ‘frugal living’ are definitely buzzwords. From Netflix shows to self-care books, there is an abundance of information and testimonials showing how ‘living with less’ can change anyone’s life for the better. If you want to learn how to be frugal, the only difficulty is really knowing where to start.
I think one of the most important things to clarify first is: what is frugal living, exactly?
Some people think being frugal is the same as being cheap.
Others think it’s being ‘tight’ with your money.
The root meaning behind frugal living, however, is this. Frugal living is learning to be smart with your spending. It means knowing what your priorities in life are, and spending your money on those things – and being happy without the rest. Frugal living means being sensible with your money so that you can afford the things that you really love, and that bring real value to your life.
When you think of frugal living like this, it’s pretty easy to see why so many people have trained themselves how to be frugal and live a more intentional life.
Being frugal with your money is definitely a journey, and there’s no right or wrong way to spend your money.
If you want to splurge on a shopping spree, go for it.
Equally, however, if you want to re-program your spending and have more spare cash for the things you love (or for a rainy day), that’s perfectly fine – and possible.
How I Went From Hoarder To Frugal Living
In 2017, I decided to see more of the world. So, I booked flights to Thailand and prepared for a year-long adventure, during which time I would travel through Asia and also build my location independent content writing business to sustain my travels.
One of the most stressful things about that time wasn’t the travel or the cultural shock, or even not seeing my family for months: in reality, one of the most stressful things was decluttering my possessions from a house to a backpack.
Frugal living lets me spend my money on the things that bring value, meaning, and happiness into my life. What those things are exactly, is different for everyone, but learning how to be frugal will show you what you want to spend your money on, and what you’re currently spending on without any real thought or meaning.
Below are some of the key things I’ve done to learn how to be frugal. These are all easy to implement into your daily routine and will help you create a more frugal lifestyle for 2019.
How to Be Frugal: The Key Rules I Try To Stick To
1) Cook Your Meals from Scratch
I didn’t really start cooking for myself until I was about 18 and living in a shared house at University. As a previously very fussy child (that’s a story for another time!), I’d never really cooked vegetables or made real meals from scratch.
Over the course of a year, that totally changed. I fell in love with food and tried countless new fruits and vegetables that I’d deprived myself of for years.
I taught myself to cook, and the habit of creating meals from scratch using fresh ingredients has been ingrained in me ever since.
I know a lot of people haven’t had this experience. Cooking from scratch can seem difficult and time-consuming, with ready meals and jarred sauces seeming like the far more convenient option.
However, this is a less healthy, and much more expensive way of feeding yourself. Get into the habit of cooking as many of your meals from scratch as possible, even if you just start with one meal a day.
2) Minimalist Travel
You might think that part of learning how to be frugal means accepting less ‘luxury’ things like travel, but I think if it’s a priority for your happiness, then travel should always be a part of your lifestyle.
Travel and experiences are, for me, far more important than material possessions, and I’m always going to be willing to forego lots of fancy clothes and expensive things in favour of a trip abroad.
That being said, you can definitely still be frugal when you travel. One of the best ways to do this is to travel as a minimalist.
That means no check-in bag (i.e. no extra fees!), and packing your carry-on bag efficiently to minimise the space you need. In 2017, I travelled for 10 months with all my clothes, laptop etc in one carry-on backpack.
If you’ve ever travelled with an enormous backpack and a day bag, you’ll know how inconvenient travelling this way can be – even if it does let you bring more stuff.
Keep it light, and you’ll be able to focus on the far more enjoyable aspects of travel (and without backache!)
Although sometimes it was tough to have so few possessions, it was also incredibly liberating and has definitely filtered into my everyday life.